Salary is typically the predominant consideration when it comes to choosing a career. It is even more so today, considering the spiking costs of living. Two years ago, a survey from JobStreet showed that pharmacist was among the best-paying jobs in Malaysia (1). But is it still the case today?

Pharmacists in Malaysia

The pharmacy job market is now at risk of oversupply. This is apparent when the salary of provisionally registered pharmacists plummeted approximately 25% in just a few short years. This article intends to explore and provide an overview on pharmacist salaries in Malaysia, and how it increases as experience and knowledge grow. It is important to understand that the figures provided are an estimation and should only be used as a reference.

1. Provisionally Registered Pharmacists

Firstly, provisionally registered pharmacists (PRP) are – not surprisingly – among the lowest paid group in the profession. Currently, a PRP can assume to fetch a monthly salary ranging from RM2,500 to RM2,800. Although many PRPs may feel frustrated over the lower salary compared to the previous record of RM3,500, the current amount still matches the average salary for Malaysian employees (2).

2. Fully Registered Pharmacists

Once the trainee completes the one-year training and qualifies as a Fully Registered Pharmacist (FRP), he or she can then look forward to receiving a slightly increased income. The amount may vary but it generally fluctuates at around RM3,500. Of course, the increase in salary is accompanied by more responsibility and workload as well. An FRP is considered a full-fledged healthcare professional, and will be depended upon to provide good quality services. Most importantly, FRPs will be wholly accountable for their actions and decisions where many of which have a direct impact on patient health. Any act of negligence will not be tolerated.

3. Senior Pharmacists

With 5 years of on-the-job experience, one can qualify as a senior pharmacist. Although there is no definite distinction that separates a junior pharmacist with his/her senior counterpart, a good pharmacist generally needs to spend a reasonably long time to acquire specialized knowledge in his/her chosen field to qualify as a senior pharmacist. This expertise comes with a generous salary of more than RM5,000 a month. In many retail pharmacies, a senior pharmacist, who also acts as the store manager, can easily earn up to RM6,000 or more. Most of these pharmacists will then take on managerial responsibilities to lead their own team in running daily businesses. This is common across both the private and public sector. Senior pharmacists may also need to consider expanding their knowledge beyond pharmacy into management or other related fields.

4. Pharmacy Heads

At the highest hierarchy, a pharmacist can become head of the pharmacy department or other similar top level manager. The salary in comparison is also the highest. A public sector pharmacist with ten years of experience can earn up to RM8,000 or more, depending on the years of service (3). In the private sector where salary schemes are less rigid, the amount will very much depend on the specialized skills possessed by the pharmacist. It is not uncommon for pharmacists with PhD qualifications to fetch five-figure salaries in the pharmaceutical industry. The sweet fruit of success always comes after hard work. However, it is important to realize the workload is always proportional to the amount written on the pay cheque. The higher the salary, the heavier the burden becomes. Not all pharmacists would like to carry such responsibilities throughout their career. It is a very personal choice, one which is worth putting some serious thought into.

For those working in the public sector, it is unfortunate that there is no pharmacist specialization program at the moment. In other words, public sector pharmacists cannot progress to become certified pharmacist specialist like their medical counterparts. Although a pharmacist can still choose to undertake overseas qualification, this achievement typically will not be reflected in the rigid salary scheme.

Nonetheless, there are many useful knowledge and skills that a pharmacist can capitalize upon to boost their incomes. For those who work in community pharmacies, it is common to be offered a profit-sharing scheme or sales commissions. Almost all retail pharmacies in Malaysia sell various health supplements and herbal medicines. Good knowledge in this niche area will be very rewarding financially. It is also possible for Malaysian pharmacists to opt for locum work, but this option is only available for eligible pharmacists (with appropriate years of experience) who obtained a license to practice as the locum. MIMS

1. Top 10 Best Paying Jobs in Malaysia [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2016 May 1]. Available from:
2. JobStreet. JobStreet Survey: ICT Has Among Best-Paying Jobs In Malaysia. 2014.
3. Ministry of Health Malaysia. Pembangunan Kerjaya: Pegawai Farmasi di Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. Ministry of Health Malaysia. Putrajaya; 2007.

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3 High-Paying Non-Physician Medical Career Pathways
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